Lookout – Workington, England - Atlas Obscura

Workington, England

Lookout

This unique sculptural clock transforms into a periscope every hour. 

This clock in the former steel town of Workington, England, is an interactive cross between a sculpture and a mechanical clock that turns itself into a type of town center periscope. But it’s more than an optical oddity or unique piece of public art. The clock actually works, too.

The intriguing clock was modeled after a camera obscura, which projects images of outer objects through a small lens. Its minute hand has a camera attached to it, allowing it to capture scenes as it rotates through the air.

Every hour, the long minute hand elevates to the vertical and, via a series of lenses, projects images of the surroundings onto viewing panels surrounding the spherical center of the clock (which operates in the horizontal plane).

When you’re done admiring the various out-of-sight scenes, you can actually use the clock to tell time. The minutes appear on the ground, and the hour can be seen on a ring above the large sphere.

The clock was designed by artist Andy Plant, and the installation also includes surrounding seats which contain speakers to play music, on the hour and half hour, specially composed by Matt Wand. The recording incorporates sampled voices from the public of Workington and instrumentals from Stainburn Steel Band and Deerham Brass Band.